After returning from Chantilly on Sunday, I spent Monday and Tuesday fervently working to wrap up all of my research in Paris.
Monday morning I headed to the Bibliotheque des arts decoratifs to photograph several books containing images that are completely indispensable to my research (see photo of one of the many images that I was able to photograph). I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity to reproduce these images. Due to the delicate nature of many of the books I examined, few could be subjected to photocopying. However, the Bibliotheque des arts decoratifs is kind enough to allow patrons to photograph these books on Monday mornings. So, I filled out the necessary paperwork and was able to obtain all of the images vital to my research. I love it when things work out.
I spent all day Tuesday at the BNF (see photo of the East entrance of the library). I needed to see a few things on microfilm and also consult several books only available in the rare books room. I had been saving these things for the end of my research, preferring to look at all of the easily available books right away. I had never used microfilm before and was a little nervous about figuring the whole system out. However, I consider myself fairly technologically savvy (if you consider a 20-year-old microfilm machine all that technological) and was sure that I could figure it out.
Luckily, I did, but only after 10 minutes of frustration. I turned the machine on, lifted the glass plate, inserted the film, etc, etc. But still the film would not feed by itself. Of course when I tried to do it manually that was not only time consuming but caused me to get fingerprints all over the film. Finally, I realized that you have to hook the film inside a hollow space in the roller so that it will be taut as the rest of the film progresses from one roll to the other. Voila!
After that fiasco, I headed to the rare book room (Salle Y) to hopefully gain access to several 18th-century works. I was able to see one of them, but when the librarian placed it on a velvety fabric and told me that I could crack the book open only an inch “maximum,” I was discouraged. It is nearly impossible to read small, 18th-century type in dim lighting with only an inch of space to peer into. I understand that the binding is fragile, but come on! I tried my best, but found very little. Knowing that the same fate lay ahead for the remaining books I wanted to examine, I decided to call it quits. I am hoping to gain access to facsimiles or newer editions elsewhere.
With that, my research at the Paris libraries was concluded. However, I still had a few days to enjoy the city, and I was thrilled!